Spoons and Forks

The inventory lists a notably large number of spoons and forks for the Ximenez-Da Vega household. This reflects the increasingly widespread use of silver cutlery in Antwerp as table manners became more of an issue from the early seventeenth century onwards; how the delicate silver forks were handled can be seen in Jan Brueghel the Elder's and Hendrik van Balen's Winter of 1616.

The Ximenez inventory also contains two early examples of such a cutlery set, each with twelve matching spoons and forks. This, together with the large number of "taillooren" and "schotels" (plates and often larger and deeper dishes, usually used for serving) available, tells us that the Ximenez house was able to wine and dine some twenty-four to thirty-six guests with homogeneous table utensils. A comparably large amount of cutlery can be found in the 1632 probate inventory of the Antwerp house of Leonora Rodrigues, widow of the Portuguese merchant Diego Duarte. Furthermore, the Ximenez inventory mentions "a silver spoon with two small silver beakers," a combination which occurs rather frequently in Antwerp inventories but the purpose of which remains unclear. Surprisingly, there are no knives listed under silverware in the Ximenez household; only in the kitchen is there mention of "three-and-a-half dozen table knives with a wooden box," and these do not have silver handles.

Lorenz Seelig, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (retired), Munich


Van Hemeldonck, Godelieve, et al., eds. Antwerps huiszilver uit de 17e en 18e eeuw. Exh. cat., Rubenshuis, Antwerp. Antwerp: Ministrie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap, 1988. 14-16, 23.

Claessens-Peré, Anne-Marie, ed. Zilver voor Sir Anthony. Exh. cat., Provinciaal Museum Sterckshof/Zilvercentrum, Antwerp. Gent: Snoeck, Ducaju & Zoon, 1999. 82-85, 114, cat. nos. 5, 21.